Even though social media was literally made to interact with others online, some people who check your Instagram account don’t interact with you at all. Heck, some people don’t even follow you on Insta, but they still check out your stories and posts.
You could say that this is just a little bit creepy, and some people have even come up with the term “Instagram stalkers”. A less creepy term would be “Instagram leechers”, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s just keep it at Insta stalkers.
What exactly are Instagram stalkers?
In short, Instagram stalkers are people who know that your profile exists and regularly visit your profile, but they do this as secretly as possible. They don’t interact, like, or comment on your posts or stories. They’re checking up on you and don’t interact with your posts.
It’s basically people who are spying on you and don’t even bother to get in touch with you or leave a like or comment.
Of course, we understand that this is anything but fun and just plain annoying – but luckily, there are some tricks and tools you can use to identify these Instagram stalkers.
With our complete guide, you’ll quickly know if and when someone is stalking you on Instagram and identify them easily.
In this article, we’re going to focus on free methods to discover and identify your Instagram stalkers.
How to know if someone is stalking you on Instagram without paying
Instagram stalkers are pretty hard to detect, that’s kind of the point. Luckily, with a little bit of research, testing, and understanding of the app’s algorithms, you’ll be able to identify your leechers or stalkers pretty easily.
And the best part? You don’t need one of the shady Instagram stalker apps – chances are most of them don’t work anyway, are riddled with microtransactions, and aren’t technically free.
We’ll only be using Instagram itself to discover any potential stalkers – no paid apps.
However, if you want additional information or want a quicker overview, sometimes a proper and reputable analytics application that focuses on Instagram traffic can be useful. The example above is an app that gives you more information about your followers and interactions and is just one of many examples. It is likely filled with ads and in-app purchases in order to see more information, so it’s best to just stick to the free method below. If you do insist on using an analytics app, it’s best to pick one from a reputable company with experience, such as Hootsuite.
Step 1: Post a regular Instagram story to check who’s watching
It sure sounds simple enough – but we’ll go into further details in the next steps.
First of all, post a regular Insta story on your account, and it can be pretty much anything. A regular photo, a black screen, a short video, anything goes.
After posting it, you’ll be able to see everyone who actively viewed or watched that story – even those who weren’t following your account.
Wait for a couple of hours to make sure all your possible stalkers have seen the story
You’ll be able to tap your Instagram, and it’ll give you an overview of every single Instagram account that has viewed it. Your friends and real followers will be on there, of course, but this should already raise some flags about potential stalkers.
Is everyone who you don’t recognize a stalker?
What you’re looking for here are people who have clearly spotted your story, but that you don’t recognize as a follower. However – not all of these people are your Instagram stalkers. After all, it could be possible that complete random strangers have come across your profile via a friend of a friend, or via the explore page. If you’re using hashtags, for example, it’s possible that your content has shown up to random users around the world.
Instagram stalkers have a repeated pattern and will visit your profile multiple times, coming back time after time.
That is why it is essential to re-do the story trick on a regular basis, so you can see who’s actually stalking you and who’s stumbling onto your account by accident. There’s not really a timeframe you have to follow for this, but you could post a story every day for a couple of days, and you’ll get a pretty good indication of Insta stalkers.
Step 2: Understanding how the Instagram story algorithm shows people
You probably already know that the algorithms on the application can be quite complicated and sometimes even incomprehensible, both for stories and posts. Luckily, there seems to be a way to understand the story viewer algorithm.
In short, the people who Instagram believes are the most relevant will be at the top of the viewer list.
Your spouse, your best friend, or the people you interact most with – they’ll sit pretty comfortably at the top.
However, this relevancy-based viewing order does not apply in the first few hours of posting.
Immediately after you’ve posted your Insta story for the rest of the world to see, all the viewers in your list will appear in chronological order, with the oldest viewers at the bottom. The people who’ve just seen your story will appear at the top.
This chronological order will be removed once there is a larger amount of people that have seen your story, and then it’ll shift back to showing the people based on their relevancy to you. There’s not a harsh number you can put on when the algorithm actually shifts, but it’s estimated to be around 40 to 60 people.
Step 3: Using the relevancy algorithm to identify possible stalkers
Even though Instagram won’t be giving out any secrets about their algorithms or internal code freely, there are some indications about the algorithm that allows us to better understand how it works.
Generally, the users that interact or view the most with your stories will be given a higher position. When you’ve got people who actually don’t look at your stories often, you’ll find them at the bottom. There’s actually some evidence for this claim as some internal code of the application was leaked before, although it’s likely to assume that the algorithms are constantly being adapted and finetuned.
Instagram stalkers will definitely want to view all of your stories, so they’re unlikely to be hiding at the bottom of the list – this is a good indicator you can use to identify and find any possible stalkers.
Additionally, the viewer list is also adjusted based on the viewer’s behavior. If they visit your profile often (even without you knowing), chances are they’ll be higher on the list, making them easy to identify as a stalker.
You might wonder: why is the Instagram algorithm so complicated? At the end of the day, Instagram, owned by parent company Facebook, just wants its users to spend as much time as possible on the app. Sorting out the relevant profiles and putting them at the top seems to be definitely partly a business decision as well.
Paige Thelan, a tech communications employee at Instagram, said the following about the Stories feed in a blog post:
Since this was said by an Instagram employee, it brings a lot of certainty to how stories are viewed in the algorithm. Particularly the last part is extremely interesting. It appears that Thelen received numerous questions from Reddit users about the interview after it was published, and she clarified in a follow-up response.
Speaking of Reddit, there are also people who have done their own experiments to try and discover Instagram stalkers – completely for free, although it might’ve taken a little bit of work.
Let’s take a look at this Reddit thread above, for example. This user has experimented on the Instagram algorithm by using a friend’s account and judging by his experience, you can definitely identify your stalkers at the top of your story viewed list. He also mentioned that the algorithm order changes after around 50 or so viewers.
In that same Reddit thread, another confirmed the first poster’s research.
“I watched all of my stories multiple times, went right back to the beginning of my profile, but I didn’t heart anything, so it would appear like an anonymous stalker,” Reddit user Barbstew111 wrote. “After 3 days of solidily checking my original profile, my new account became 1st in the ‘view’ list, and dropped to second when my current top viewer had seen the story. This was for me confirmation that it is your top Instagram stalkers or viewers, as I deliberately did not interact with my ‘new’ profile at all, not a single view.
Step 4: What to do with Instagram stalkers after you’ve found them
After you’ve discovered and located the potential stalkers, what you do with them is pretty much up to you. We would recommend just blocking those people from viewing your profile again, especially if they’re people you don’t know or recognize. Being stalked, checked up, or spied on isn’t exactly the purpose of social media, but the block button is certainly efficient. If they try to make another account to stalk you again, you should be able to use the same methods above to discover it. If you’re dealing with multiple stalkers on a regular basis, it may be a good idea to switch your profile to private and check (and slim down) your follower list.
Summary: how to identify your Instagram stalkers for free
Luckily, there’s a good method to see and know if someone stalks you on Instagram, even though it can take a little effort and research. By understanding the viewer story algorithm, you’ll find potential and likely Insta stalkers at the top of your story viewed list. Once you know who these people are, you can simply block them so that they won’t be stalking your account anymore.